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Bill to Establish the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, June 16, 1958

The Soviet Union’s launch of the first satellite, Sputnik 1, spurred Congress to establish committees with jurisdiction over space exploration. Committees in both houses crafted legislation that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on July 29, 1958.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Bill to Establish the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Sending Americans into Space - 1

In the 1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union began programs for manned and unmanned scientific missions into space. The Soviets’ successful launch of the unmanned Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957 made Congress determined to jolt the U.S. space program into action. Winning the race to space became a political, scientific, and security priority. The United States intensified its efforts to be the first nation to send a man to the moon.